Neighborhood Book Groups

The newest branch of SURJ NEO!

SURJ NEO’s neighborhood book study groups have begun. The groups offer a non-judgmental place for people in all stages of racial analysis to grow and build relationships with other people near us who are also doing anti-racism work. We are aiming to keep challenging ourselves, holding each other accountable to SURJ values, encouraging each other, growing in our anti-racist perspectives, and ultimately kindling passion for organizing against racism. It takes a lot of hard work to consciously undo the harmful attitudes and knee-jerk reactions accumulated during a lifetime conditioned with subtle or overt prejudices and racism. White people have a tendency toward individualism which is prone to fractiousness and ego, but it is really valuable to join as a collective to develop a synergy that will accomplish far more than we can do on our own. Stronger together!

We’re going to aim to read a Northeast Ohio-wide book every two months to give everyone time to finish the book and meet up. The SURJ NEO Book Group selection for March will be, “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin. Our neighborhood book group leaders felt it would be an excellent title to follow up our January book “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, because Coates often referenced an ongoing conversation with Baldwin in his work, and Baldwin’s high-literary writing style is complementary to that of Coates’.  “The Fire Next Time” is a particularly timely choice because “I Am Not Your Negro” is out in theaters — a film adaptation of Baldwin’s incomplete book titled, “Remember This House” which deals with race in America.

Your book group leader will be in contact soon about your next meeting, but it’s a good idea to buy/borrow the book now and start reading! If you’d like to join a neighborhood book group please email with your name, location, and phone number and we’ll match you up with your closest group.

From Goodreads:
“A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle…all presented in searing, brilliant prose,” The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.”